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Professional Bike Chain Discovered at Columbia University

What if we bought our own college? I'm just saying.

New York police stand in front of a conga line of khaki-clad riot cops breaching an upper floor of Columbia’s Hamilton Hall.

David Dee Delgado/Reuters via The Guardian

In 2018, the University looked back on those 1968 protests and smugly concluded that:

Columbia is a far different place today than it was in the spring of 1968 when protesters took over University buildings amid discontent about the Vietnam War, racism and the University’s proposed expansion into Morningside Park. After a weeklong standoff, New York City Police stormed the campus and arrested more than 700 people. The fallout dogged Columbia for years.

If Columbia is a different place today, the difference may only be found in how fast University President Minouche Shafik called the NYPD goon squad to demand last night’s raid and mass arrests. Shafik claimed “that while the group who broke into the building includes students, it is led by individuals who are not affiliated with the University.” So far the evidence presented to reporters that “outside agitators” are responsible for the Hamilton Hall occupation consists of a bike chain that NYPD Deputy Commissioner Tarik Sheppard toured around the talk shows, where he declared in the war-weary matter-of-fact tone that cops take when they’re about to tell you a real fat stinker of a lie: “This is not what students bring to school, ok? This is what professionals bring to campuses and universities.” Professionals? Professional whats? Professional bike-securers?

…a bike lock chain that’s recommended to [students] through the Columbia University website. As journalist Aric Toler and several others have pointed out on social media, this exact Kryptonite brand lock was recently on sale through Columbia's Public Safety department, as part of its "Crime Prevention Discount Bike, Locker and Laptop Lock Program.”

Bike chains notwithstanding, when Hell Gate’s Christopher Robbins asked the more straightforward question: “were any outside agitators arrested at Columbia’s Hamilton Hall?” Sheppard claimed that Commissioner Rebecca Weiner said there were, however they still had to “run names by Columbia.” But somehow despite not having confirmed who is or isn’t associated with the University, “we know that they were outside agitators.” Seems legit. They just know.

Alex Kent/Getty Images via New York

They had been carrying supplies in these reusable shopping bags leading up to the action. There were a lot of supplies — ropes, chains, nails, a drill, a hammer — that were used in the barricades, which were most likely brought in with the bags. They had sleeping bags, and they seemed like they were ready to stay. There were no protest chants inside the building — it was all very much to-the-point directions about what to do, what they needed to do.

Most of us weren’t at Columbia or in New York last night, and Shelby Lorman captured what all this felt like to experience remotely through social media and glitchy radio streams. For more on the historical parallels, yesterday’s Sword and the Sandwich was an essay by David Swanson: “History Repeats Itself at Columbia.”

This is surely not how the university’s administrators anticipated things playing out, but any student of history could have predicted it. In 1968, the Columbia student body helped ignite a wave of protests across the world. The pro-Palestinian demonstrations have now spread to college campuses around the country, and despite a widespread crackdown and accusations of anti-Semitism, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

If you’re as impressed as I am by the student journalists at Columbia covering all this, Spectator Board of Trustees Chair Megan Greenwell points out that the student newspaper is “an independent nonprofit with zero financial ties to the university, if you want to kick them some money.”

Matt Binder posted “the Adams administration lied and the media ran with it. the NYPD now admits there was no “wife of a terrorist” at the Columbia protests after the Mayor used this as cover to assault student protesters last night” with two tweet screenshots, one from 4/30 making the claim and one from today rolling it back.

But could Columbia have taken a different path? Well, at UCLA last night:

…before midnight …a masked group descended on an encampment that pro-Palestinian protesters had erected on the campus. Aerial footage showed people wielding sticks or poles to attack wooden boards that had been put up as a makeshift barricade to protect the encampment, some holding placards or umbrellas. At least one firework was thrown into the camp.

…But while Los Angeles police arrived at the scene at about 1.40am, officers did not immediately break up the two sets of protesters, and the clashes continued for at least an hour, the Los Angeles Times and CalMatters reported.

There were “no visible arrests.” So I guess one approach is to let an ad-hoc gang beat on the protestors, throw fireworks, and yell militant Zionist slogans at them for three hours before casually letting the attacking mob go home. On the other hand, at Brown University:

Demonstrators agreed to dismantle their encampment… which had been removed by Tuesday evening, and university leaders said they would discuss, and later vote on, divesting funds from companies connected to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

I guess only time will tell which approach is better. If you think you could run a college better than any of these clowns, Wells College on the shores of New York’s beautiful Cayuga Lake is closing. What if we buy it and open the University of Tabs, NY? Our literary magazine could be the UTNY Reader.

And if I made a list of people whose opinions are not required on this or any other topic, I wouldn’t even have remembered Judith Miller exists. But here she is, ol’ Iraqi WMDs @JMfreespeech herself:

Wow I didn’t mean to make this the whole newsletter today but I am obviously heated about it. Among other things that happened are included such diverse events as:

And Finally: From Rosemary Mosco: “Real and Implied Bird Species.” (Her Patreon is right here.)

A six-panel cartoon titled "real and implied birds". In the two panels in the top row, there's a rough legged-hawk sailing through the sky, next to a smooth legged hawk, which has smooth human legs. In the second row, there's a great-crested flycatcher looking dapper, next to an ok-crested flycatcher that has just a slightly less nice crest. In the third row, there's a mountain chickadee standing up on stones, next to a valley chickadee peeking out from a dip between stones. In the fourth row, there's a least bittern standing in some reeds, next to a most bittern that is enormous and stomping through a city, with people running in fear, helicopters overhead, and an overturned car on fire.

Today’s Song: Sabrina Carpenter, “Espresso”

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